by Chris Barton
Illustrated by Don Tate
Published May 2016
Copy obtained from public library
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.
A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
Picture book biographies are a bit of a recent obsession for me. I like reading about famous people, but I really love stories about interesting, lesser-known people. So many things are invented that we use in our daily lives and we never really know the story behind the invention. Lonnie's story is important because it shows how he persevered even though many doubted his abilities. It shows children that inventors and scientists fail...A LOT before they succeed and sometimes the best creations come from "accidents".
The author does not shy away from using more sophisticated vocabulary and provides a detailed description of Johnson's struggles and accomplishments making Whoosh! appealing to older readers. Don Tate's illustrations are always amazing! It is fun to see how he changes Lonnie from a young school boy, through college and into adulthood.
I would recommend Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions for grades 2-5.
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